In show of strength, 'G-23' Congress leaders to share stage with Ghulam Nabi Azad in J&K

5 months ago 7

Days after Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad's retirement from Rajya Sabha and Rahul Gandhi's controversial 'North-South' remarks, top central Congress leaders arrived in Jammu to attend a function on Friday. This is being seen as a show of strength by the 'G-23' faction within the Congress.

Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former UP Congress chief Raj Babbar, former union ministers Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal were among those who arrived in Jammu. Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari are also likely to join them.

Along with Ghulam Nabi Azad, all of these leaders were among 23 Congressmen who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi, seeking an overhaul of the organisation.

The senior Congress leaders are expected to share a stage at the function of an NGO called Gandhi Global Family in Jammu on Saturday. Former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is the chairperson of this NGO.

Congress leaders' visit unofficial

The group of "dissidents" is likely to express their displeasure over the functioning of the party. Sources in J&K Congress told India Today that this visit of senior leaders is not official.

"Neither did we ask for the visit of these leaders nor has the party leadership in Delhi deputed them to pay a visit to Jammu. But after coming to know about Azad Sahib's Jammu visit, we requested him to meet the J&K unit party leaders at Pradesh Congress Committee office in Jammu," sources told India Today.

JKPCC welcomes Jb @ghulamnazad at PCC Headquarters Jammu today.@INCIndia @INCSandesh @INCJammuKashmir @rajanipatil_in

— Ghulam Ahmad Mir (@GAMIR_INC) February 26, 2021

It is important to mention here that the "group of dissenters" in the Congress is believed to be unhappy with Rahul Gandhi's recent 'North-South' remarks. They are also miffed over Ghulam Nabi Azad not being re-nominated as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress will contest elections united: Azad

However, sources in J&K Congress said while interacting with party leaders in Jammu, Ghulam Nabi Azad made it clear that he was not leaving the Congress or joining the BJP. He is believed to have told them to strengthen the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, speaking to media persons outside the party office in Jammu on Friday, Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress was going to contest the forthcoming assembly polls in four states and one UT united.

"We will fight the elections with full force. We will put up a strong fight. We will campaign in the elections united," Ghulam Nabi Azad said in response to India Today's question.

When asked by India Today whether he would be returning to J&K politics, Ghulam Nabi Azad said he is concerned about the entire nation, including J&K.

Azad to play key role in J&K politics: GA Mir

On the other hand, president of J&K Congress GA Mir told India Today in an exclusive interview that Ghulam Nabi Azad will play an important role in J&K politics in the days to come.

"We are happy that Azad Sahab visited the party office in Jammu. He is on a three-day visit to Jammu. He held discussions with the party leaders today. I do not know about the visit of other senior central leaders. So, I cannot comment on that," GA Mir said.

He went on to add, "As far as Azad Sahab is concerned, his leadership and political acumen is going to help the party in J&K. He is our senior leader. He will play an important role in J&K politics. However, making him party's CM face in J&K is the prerogative of the party high command."

The trip of 'G-23' leaders to Jammu has set tongues wagging and all eyes will be on Saturday's function to see the 'dissident' Congress leaders sharing the stage and maybe even issuing a joint statement.

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